Low-cost sensors have acted as the catalysers for transformation
Published on : Saturday 04-09-2021
Dr Makarand Sawant, IT Professional, Technology and Business Visionary.
What are the roles sensors are performing in the field of industrial automation today?
Sensors play a very important role to make the products intelligent and highly automatic. Sensors allow one to detect, analyse, measure and process changes with physical effect, providing this information to the control system. Sensors are input devices which provide an output signal with respect to a specific physical quantity input.
Cheaper, low-cost sensors are getting popular. Is there a trade-off here and the implications?
Innovative IoT solutions based on these low-cost sensors are making it possible for various companies to get affordable options. Low-cost sensors have acted as the catalysers for transformation. One of the major obstacles in adapting to cutting edge solutions empowered by IoT technology is the deployment of the needed sensors. Using the most sophisticated sensors for every type is not possible as it goes far beyond the revenue generated. There needs to be a balanced trade-off between the need and level up to which the monitoring and tracking are needed and technology that needs to be involved. For certain requirements it is unavoidable to use the best tracking and monitoring sensors. To provide a more balanced solution, which can provide absolute tracking and monitoring and doesn’t cut the pocket very deep, it makes sense to look out for the low-cost sensors which are already present in the environment. The need is to utilise these gadgets with a new perspective.
At the other end, sensors are getting smarter. What exactly is smart about smart sensors? Is it really smart to opt for a smart sensor?
Smart sensors are built as IoT components that convert the real-world variable that they're measuring into a digital data stream for transmission to a gateway. Smart sensors use built-in compute resources to perform predefined functions upon detection of specific input and then process data before passing it on. Smart sensors provide self-identification, smart calibration and compensation, digital sensor data, multi sensing ability, sensor communication for remote monitoring and remote configuration. Smart sensor technologies have been used for monitoring and control mechanisms in a wide variety of environments, including smart grids, flood and water level monitoring systems, environmental monitoring, traffic monitoring and control, energy saving in artificial lighting, remote system monitoring and equipment fault.
The topics of digital transformation like data analytics and AI/ML all depend on availability of 'good' data. What are the advancements in sensor technology to capture data which is difficult to obtain?
Sensors are connected through gateways, which enable them to relay the collected data to a server in the cloud. From there, the information is transmitted to your computer or mobile phone, so you have instant access to all monitored activities taking place. Advanced sensor technology is a crucial element of information collection. Technologies used in sensors are Biosensors, LiDAR sensors, Sensor Fusion, ADAS, Smart sensors, Photonic Sensors, Gesture Recognition, Large area sensors, Energy Harvesting and Electronic Skin/Skinput.
It would be highly desirable that Electric vehicles transmit more data back to stations to enable new business models. What are the demands on sensors in moving vehicles?
The majority of today's automotive manufacturers most commonly use these three types of sensors in autonomous vehicles – cameras, radars and lidars. Automobile sensors are intelligent sensors which can be used to control and process the pressure of oil, temperature, level of emission, coolant levels, etc. Self-driving vehicles employ a wide range of technologies like radar, cameras, ultrasound, and radio antennas to navigate safely on our roads. Proprioceptive Sensors are responsible for measuring the vehicle's internal functions such as wheel speed, inertial measurement and driver attentiveness. Exteroceptive Sensors are responsible for sensing the vehicle's surroundings.
What are the emerging trends in sensors that will further increase efficiency?
Emerging trends in sensors – use of sensors will increase in vehicles, sports, smart cities, precision agriculture, to improve the environment, improve energy management, and build green office buildings. In the future, maintenance will rely on sensors instead of being carried out according to a needs-based timetable, unsafe situations will be easily predicted. Autonomous sensor technology will become possible with wireless connections over long distances having an integrated power supply. Sensors will be self-learning over the entire lifespan without maintenance, modifications, or calibration. The possibilities and areas of application for robot technology will increase significantly. New technologies at the chip level are arising. More will be possible with sensor fusion because transmitters, receivers and printed circuit boards are increasingly getting smaller. More complex detection will be possible, sensors will increasingly provide a better understanding of behaviour.
Dr Makarand Sawant is a PhD in Analytics, he is a technology and business visionary with 22 years of executive and hands-on experience in automating multi-billion dollar enterprises. He is a Computer Science engineering graduate with MBA and a Doctorate in Management Studies, Information Technology. He has led Innovation and alignment of IT with business by driving Digital Transformation through Analytics, Process Automation, Mobility, and Cloud including leading Smart Factory, IoT and Industry 4.0 initiatives.